spokesman

Around the World: April 21, 2015

Here's what's happening across the United States and around the world today.

Prosecutors blame capsizing of migrant boat on its captain for colliding with rescue ship

CATANIA, Sicily (AP) — Prosecutors in Sicily say two actions are suspected to have caused a migrant boat to capsize in what is thought to be the Mediterranean's worst migrant disaster.

In a statement Tuesday, Catania's prosecutors said the smuggler captain, 27-year-old Tunisian Mohammed Ali Malek, mistakenly rammed his boat into the Portuguese-flagged merchant ship that had come to its rescue. And the prosecutors say the migrants themselves then shifted position on the boat, which was already off balance due to the collision.

The prosecutors say the death toll is still uncertain, noting that the passengers have spoken of anywhere between 400 and 950 people on board, while the crew of the rescue ship estimated some 850.

Only 24 bodies were recovered, while 28 people survived.

How countries cope with the influx of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing by boat

Two recent shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea believed to have taken the lives of as many as 1,300 asylum seekers and migrants has highlighted the escalating flow of people fleeing persecution, war and economic difficulties in their homelands.

Over the years, thousands of people in Asia have also used boats to escape. Here's a look at where many go — and have gone in the past — and how they are treated once they arrive.

AUSTRALIA

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN: Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, China, Somalia, Sudan, Myanmar and Vietnam.

AP Exclusive: Bush preparing to delegate many functions of likely 2016 campaign to a super PAC

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Jeb Bush is preparing to embark on an experiment in presidential politics: delegating many of the nuts-and-bolts tasks of seeking the White House to a separate political organization that can raise unlimited amounts of campaign cash.

The concept, in development for months as the former Florida governor has raised tens of millions of dollars for his Right to Rise super PAC, would endow that organization not just with advertising on Bush's behalf, but with many of the duties typically conducted by a campaign.

Should Bush move ahead as his team intends, it is possible that for the first time a super PAC created to support a single candidate would spend more than the candidate's campaign itself — at least through the primaries. Some of Bush's donors believe that to be more than likely.

The architects of the plan believe the super PAC's ability to raise unlimited amounts of money legally outweighs its primary disadvantage, that it cannot legally coordinate its actions with Bush or his would-be campaign staff.

"Nothing like this has been done before," said David Keating, president of the Center for Competitive Politics, which opposes limits on campaign finance donations. "It will take a high level of discipline to do it."

Lawyer of man who died after an encounter with Baltimore police suspects no cause for arrest

BALTIMORE (AP) — The lawyer for the family of Freddie Gray, a black man who died of spinal injuries he sustained during an arrest in Baltimore, said he believes the police had no reason to stop the man in the first place.

Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 after police "made eye contact" with him and another man and the two started running, authorities said. Gray was placed in a transport van, and roughly 30 minutes later was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Gray died Sunday of what Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez described as "a significant spinal injury" at a Monday news conference.

But what led to that injury — and why Gray was initially pursued by police — is still unknown.

According to court documents, Officer Garrett Miller sought to charge Gray with carrying a switchblade, which was discovered in Gray's pocket after he was stopped. But at a news conference Monday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said "we know having a knife is not necessarily a crime."

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts also said the reason for Gray's stop is "a question we have to dig into."

Egypt court sentences ousted President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison over 2012 killings

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday sentenced ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012, the first verdict to be issued against the country's first freely elected leader.

The ruling, which can be appealed, reflects the dramatic downfall of Morsi and the drastic challenges facing Egypt since its 2011 uprising that forced longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group swiftly rose to power in elections after Mubarak's ouster, only to find themselves behind bars a year later when millions protested against them for abusing power and the military overthrew the government.

But as Mubarak and members of his government increasingly find themselves acquitted of criminal charges, Morsi and the Brotherhood are at the receiving end of heavy-handed sentences.

During Tuesday's hearing, Judge Ahmed Youssef issued his verdict as Morsi and other defendants in the case — mostly Muslim Brotherhood leaders — stood in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom at Egypt's national police academy. Seven of the accused were tried in absentia.

US couple sentenced to prison in Bali for killing woman's mother, stuffing body in suitcase

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court found an American couple guilty of premeditated murder and sentenced them to prison on Tuesday in the death of the woman's mother on the resort island of Bali.

The Denpasar District Court sentenced Tommy Schaefer to 18 years in prison and Heather Mack to 10 years for intentionally killing Sheila von Wiese-Mack while vacationing last August. The body was found in a suitcase inside the trunk of a taxi at the St. Regis Bali Resort.

The three-judge panel said it decided to be lenient toward Mack, 19, because she recently gave birth to a baby.

The court ruled that Schaefer, 21, was guilty of battering von Wiese-Mack to death in a hotel room at the resort, and that his girlfriend Mack had helped with the Aug. 12 killing.

Schaefer and Mack, both from Chicago, were tried separately in the same court with the same judges and prosecutors.

6 from Minnesota charged with trying to join Islamic State group

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — When Guled Ali Omar made up his mind to join the Islamic State group, authorities said, he wasn't easily deterred.

The Minnesota man emptied his bank accounts last May and planned to fly to Syria via San Diego, federal officials say, but his family confronted him and he set his plans aside. In November, officials say, he tried to board a flight in Minneapolis, but was stopped by the FBI.

Even while under investigation, authorities say, Omar and five other men kept trying to make their way to Syria, coming up with a plot to secure false passports.

Omar is among six Minnesota men of Somali descent charged with terrorism-related offenses in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday. They are among the latest Westerners accused of traveling or attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, which has carried out a host of attacks including beheading Americans.

In Alabama on Monday, a spokesman for Muslim couple said their 20-year-old daughter fled a Birmingham suburb to join Islamic State militants in Syria after being recruited online. The woman's whereabouts weren't immediately clear.

At Dome of the Rock, even lifting its carpet for replacement reveals Jerusalem religious rifts

JERUSALEM (AP) — It began as a routine remodeling project: Muslim authorities replacing an old carpet worn thin by masses of worshippers at the Dome of the Rock, the iconic, gold-topped shrine that overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem.

But there is no such thing as routine remodeling when it comes to the most contested piece of real estate in Jerusalem, where the presence of a mere screwdriver can threaten to ignite religious tensions.

The carpet has sparked a verbal holy war over the hilltop compound, which is revered by Jews and Muslims whose competing claims often spill over into violence.

Israeli archaeological authorities say the repairs were carried out behind their backs, and an Israeli government minister urged an immediate halt to the work, claiming it might cause irreparable damage. Frustrated Israeli researchers say previously undocumented ancient floor designs were discovered when the old carpets were peeled off, but they didn't get a chance to document the designs before workmen covered them up with the new carpet.

And some researchers claim the Bible's deepest secrets may lie beneath some of the newly exposed floor designs.

Though part of China for 18 years, Hong Kongers resist mainlanders' embrace, feel alienated

HONG KONG (AP) — All around Chow Tak-yee's neighborhood in the working-class edges of Hong Kong, the 26-year-old can feel the spreading influence of nearby mainland China on the prosperous, open-minded city she's always called home.

The children of mainland families now fill her neighborhood's best schools, and she's had to search for three months to find a classroom spot for her young son. Chow, who works as an accountant, and her electrician husband have to live at her in-laws' cramped apartment, as a red-hot housing market flooded with Chinese investment prices out many young buyers. Sometimes, she can't even find household goods in nearby stores, because Chinese traders buy them all up to sell at a mark-up in the adjacent mainland city of Shenzhen.

For Chow and many in this 7.2-million-person city, it all adds up to the feeling that Hong Kong is being forever changed by the 1.4-billion-strong country just a few miles to the north, where many feel life is cheaper and people are less educated.

"They're interfering with the rules of Hong Kong society," Chow said as her son played by her side during a visit to her childhood home, a two-bedroom apartment in a public housing estate.

Eighteen years after this world financial hub returned from colonial British control to Chinese rule, many say they feel more alienated and less trusting than ever of the central Chinese government and even the people visiting from across the border. That has presented leaders in Beijing with one of their biggest political headaches as they try to project a more unified, confident image abroad.


That's what's happening. Read more stories to jump start your day in our special Breakfast Buzz section.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us